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The Arab League

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The Arab League is a political organization with representation from 22 member countries and four observers. Headquarters are in Cairo, Egypt. Officially called the League of Arab States, the organization has annual summits to discuss world affairs of interest to Arab countries and to promote economic and military co-operation.

Among recent high-profile initiatives supported by the Arab League are efforts to promote child welfare, encourage youth and sports programs, increase literacy and technological understanding, and better cultural exchange between member states. The League has also been outspoken in efforts to combat
crime and drug abuse and to mediate disputes between member states or between those state and other countries. The League adopted a regional anti-terrorism pact in 1998.

Each country has one vote in the League Council, but decisions are binding only for the countries that voted in favor of the decisions. Part of the group charter, however, is a strategy of coordinated military defense measures.

The League began in 1945, with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Transjordan (now Jordan). Yemen joined not long after the formation of the league. Membership grew steadily during the rest of the 20th Century, and membership now stands at 22:

Algeria Morocco
Bahrain Oman
Comoros Palestine
Djibouti Qatar
Egypt Saudi Arabia
Iraq Somalia
Jordan Sudan
Kuwait Syria
Lebanon Tunisia
Libya United Arab Emirates
Mauritania Yemen

Four countries are allowed to be observers: Brazil, Eritrea, India, and Venezuela.

Initially, one of the aims of the Arab League was to oppose the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948, in large part from territory previously claimed by Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been at the forefront of Arab League concerns ever since. The League suspended Egypt after that country signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The League's headquarters moved to Tunis, where it stayed until 1987, when the League reinstated Egypt and the headquarters returned to Cairo.



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